Splashing Through The Mud And The Muck

lifenov5-51-006

Inside my 11/5/51 LIFE magazine is this mostly beige page that reads

FATHER, DAUGHTER AND WATER BUFFALOES SOAK IN INDIA’S MUD-FILLED, BUT HOLY HOOGHLY RIVER

It’s an odd image, no? I’ve never found myself in similar circumstances. I wonder if there are more petite water buffaloes drowning just below the surface?

Interestingly, a 2009 Times of India article confirms the river’s sad state:

For a good part of the remaining section, the river is either made out of bounds by hideous rusting warehouses that are housed on its edge, or inexplicably hidden behind a high wall. The purpose, it appears, is to shield the city from a shame but what actually ought to have been its greatest asset and pride.

Americans are not immune to dirty rivers, either; soapboxie.com calls the Mississippi River “the Colon of America.” That’s a new one on me. The same site doesn’t even list the Hooghly River in the top 10 most polluted rivers. Their winner of the filthiest river on earth (as of May 2016) went to The Ganges River, the most sacred river in Hinduism and the third largest river (by discharge) in the world. In their words,

Many Hindus think the river’s water is so healthful they actually drink it as if it were an elixir. Be that as it may, the importance of the river cannot be overestimated, as it affects the lives of 400 million people who live near it. Unfortunately, people dump their waste into the Ganges as they use it for drinking, bathing and cooking, giving rise to many water-borne illnesses. In fact, people who can’t afford cremation throw corpses into the river. It’s hard to imagine a filthier river than the beloved Ganges.

Yikes! Makes me thankful for cleaned city water that we then push through a whole-house filter and then through another refrigerator filter to give us sparkling water. I’ll drink to that.

That’s A Big Fat Nope

Naresh & Rajesh Bedi
Naresh & Rajesh Bedi

Hindu women in Shirala, India bow before a “Nalla Pambu” (good snake), a symbol of fertility. Call it what you will, but no snake is a good snake to me. I don’t care if it eats rats. I’ll take rats over venomous snakes any day. Per wikipedia,

The Indian cobra’s venom mainly contains a powerful post-synaptic neurotoxin and cardiotoxin. The venom acts on the synaptic gaps of the nerves, thereby paralyzing muscles, and in severe bites leading to respiratory failure or cardiac arrest.

Good snake, my butt. That snake doesn’t give life; it takes it.

Look, ladies, I feel you on the infertility front. I’ve jabbed needles of Ovidrel in my belly, popped Clomid, and spent hours at the fertility clinic while they spin out the wonky husband samples to find the best and brightest swimmers. More than once. It was expensive and unsuccessful, and it can destroy a marriage. I’ve tried nearly everything under the sun. But never never would I get on my knees, prostrate and in striking range of a cobra.

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Indian Men Ankle-Deep In Peppercorns, Wearing Beautiful Wrap Skirts

Saveur magazine, Jan/Feb 2002
Saveur magazine, Jan/Feb 2002

During my many trips to India, specifically the village of Kerala, this was a familiar sight. Tanned men with enviable full heads of hair, revealing sculpted calves beneath skirts straight out of The Preppy Handbook, working the Tellicherry and Malabar peppercorns as they dried in the sun. No, wait, I’ve never been overseas; I’ve only eaten curry dishes at Royal India off the highway. In any event, their waiters would do themselves a favor to don such gay apparel.